Memories of learning things the hard way

BNSF FAN Mar 9, 2019


    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

    Pretty sure I'm not the only one who has learned a lot of things the hard way. I probably should be but I'm not afraid to admit I've done some bonehead things. While going through a box earlier, I came across a couple of items that reminded me of that. Here's the first one. This is one of the very first N scale cars I ever bought. Dare I say 35 to 40 years ago. Not exactly sure why but the day I bought it, I got it home and broke out a rattle can of Dull Coat and gave it a quick spray. Maybe a little too much spray and the temp was maybe a little too low for it as well. As you can see, I ended up with a heavily frosted box car. I've kept it as a reminder all these years.

    Here is the second one. This car was purchased for a hefty (at least to me) sum since it was an odd and unique tank car. It was not from Ebay but another buy and sell forum you may be familiar with. The photo was a bit fuzzy and from the description and discussion, it definitely did not sound like it was in the shape it is in. A hard lesson in buyer beware as there was no going back once it was paid for unfortunately. I felt like I asked the right question before purchase but still ended up being a bad deal. That's about all I want to say about it and yes, it was a log time before I purchased anything else used on line. It's currently for sale for a fraction of what I paid for it if you are looking for a project.

    Anyone else care to share?
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  2. silentargus

    silentargus TrainBoard Member

    The first two times I stripped paint off a locomotive were lessons in humility and patience. The second moreso than the first. The first was a Minitrix B6 shell (metal). The second was a Bmann doodlebug (plastic). I got frustrated with how long the lettering was taking to come off the B6, so I got the bright idea to use a felt buffing head on my Dremel tool to make it go faster after soaking the shell in alcohol for a few minutes. It worked so well that I didn't even stop to think about what I was doing before I turned my attention to the doodlebug... which almost immediately started melting. Luckily I came to my senses before it caught fire. In hindsight, I'm pretty lucky I didn't set the Minitrix on fire too, since I was after all using very flammable liquid as paint thinner. :oops:

    I keep the shell in my toolbox to remind me what happens when I get impatient and have power tools close at hand. It has a fluffy felt mustache growing out of a Santa Fe red nose, so it's kind of hard to miss.
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  3. bill pearce

    bill pearce TrainBoard Member

    Not too many bad things, except when I was shooting photos of a custom paint job, and got a Tota-light too close. Oops.
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  4. WM183

    WM183 TrainBoard Member

    Cats and N scale steam locomotives don't mix!
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  5. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

    I used to think that I was the only one in the hobby who botched projects and wasted money, but I've since learned better. It's all part of being human and stretching our skills and imaginations. Bill, my Dad melted our Lionel Allis-Chalmers car with a hot light while shooting title slides for the family 35mm slide collection.
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  6. Kurt Moose

    Kurt Moose TrainBoard Member

    An Exacto-Knife blade is always sharper than it looks........o_O
  7. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

    One thing I learned early on was to separate spillable liquids far away from any project, preferably into another room. :oops: I once knocked over some plaint thinner which directed itself in a wave directly into a locomotive body shell I'd just decaled.
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  8. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

    And...if an Exacto knife rolls off your workbench...don't try to catch it on its way down !!!
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  9. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    Oh dear! Where do I start.

    Don't grab a soldering iron or wood burning stick on the wrong end. Don't grab a rattle can of paint and point it at your face.

    The biggest fiasco was something called the "Common." Once a friend (mentor) showed me how to wire in a DPDT Toggle Switches, I was a much happier camper. Never mind the joy ...that layout brought to my dad.:D:cool:

    Coupler conversions. In HO we had those X2F (Horn Hook) couplers while in N scale we played with the Rapido Couplers. Most of them truck mounted and you couldn't back any train through those rowdy tight radius curves to save your soul. The wheels would drop off in the dirt every-time. Frustrate, frustrate, frustrate. Finally, we discovered what others had found, Kadee and later Micro Trains body mounted couplers. I've tried the others that have jumped up since then but still prefer the MTL line of working knuckle couplers.

    Laying track. Sectional Track. Turned out to be a fiasco. As the day heated up into the 90's or better the track would move around. As it cooled it would settle down and sort of re-align itself. No air conditioning back them "Because we didn't need any." :mad::eek:o_O

    I learned from my mentor how to use Flex Track, glue it down and offset my joints. Not the kind you smoke.:sick::LOL::censored:

    I was reminded yesterday, where I watched a video of this fellow laying track and he uses all the old tricks I used to use to fix bad joints. Which incidentally doesn't work well...:(:confused::eek: as in, it won't hold up. Endurance record is in question. This would easily fit into the saying of, "A newbie teaching other newbies the same OLD mistakes". :cautious:(n):confused: Sigh!

    Now that sounded like I was picking on him. Not when I made the same mistakes and had to learn better techniques and How-To's. That would be a put down to I, Me and Myself. A warning to others. :(:);)

    My list doesn't stop there. I've never started a fire - deliberately. I did blow up a B-mann 4-8-4 of Santa Fe Livery. :oops::p I tried everything except a Kato Mechanism, to get it to work and run on my layout. Sure felt good when I swept up all those pieces off my cement patio.

    I've never thrown an Atlas locomotive up against the wall in frustration. My dad did and he said he never felt better. :confused::ROFLMAO::LOL: Tabs those darn tabs will work themselves loose and all electrical contact to the motor is...well...shut off. o_O:coffee::censored:(n)

    Then there's those :censored::censored::censored: and one more :censored: dreaded, Traction Tires. Primarily on those Steam Engines (said correctly) and/or Locomotive. You have to take the drivers and driving rods apart to install the new traction tires. That repeats the same unacceptable performance. :eek::mad:o_O Thanks to the creator of Bull Frog Snott. Most of my problems are resolved. :cool:

    Do yourself a favor. If you are new to the hobby. Don't waist your time with video's and How-To's put out by Newbies. Go to the published Model Railroad Resources. Bring your questions here, as TB is a good place to start. ;) Let's get away from "Newbies helping Newbies to Make The Same Mistakes". (y):cautious::cool:

    Find an experienced mentor.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019
  10. Akirasho

    Akirasho TrainBoard Member

    … recently tried that with a kitchen knife. While the logical mind took hold and I stopped my reach, time stood still as I waited to see/feel where the knife ended it's gravity induced journey. Missed me by that much.

    Remember that the smaller and more essential a part or screw is, the more likely it is to:

    A. bounce under something heavy and hard to move.
    B. take on Defense Department worthy levels of "Stealth" as you scan the floor, never realizing that it fell into your lap until you stand up.
    C. find your HVAC floor register.
    D. all of the above.
  11. Run8Racing

    Run8Racing TrainBoard Member

    Had an X-acto roll off the table, fall straight down like a dart, stick in the top of my foot, then fall over to the side. After "expressing my joy" over this, the cat wouldn't come near me for a week !!! :mad: Made cradles for the X-actos with "feet" made from automotive vacuum lines.
    Had a 4x8 "layout" on the floor for a few years. It was basically a "Plywood Central" line. Mainly sectional Code 80. Structures were a beer can for the brewery, can of corn for the grainery, empty Pennzoil bottle for the refinery, cigarette carton for Union Station, etc. Actually had TONS of fun with that layout, but keeping it clean was impossible. One year we had a bumper crop of Wolf spiders. (How many fatalities on YOUR layout ???) My Kato E8 found a rather large one and I spent an evening cleaning that out of the trucks. Ever see Wolf spider pieces through an Opti-Visor ??? :eek: That layout went away after being trampled twice when house was broken into.
    When installing M/Ts on my LL DL109s, I didn't think to check length of the mounting screws. The screw pokes through the shell, coming out in the middle of the "Rock Island" shield on the nose. I was dis-heartened and disgusted. Set them aside and left for two weeks of Sprint Car racing in Iowa. When I returned, GF had repaired it and will not tell me how she did it. Guess I have to keep her !!! :)
    Replacing trucks on a Deluxe Innovations black BN coal hopper, I applied WAAAAY too much pressure on the bolster pin. Completely shattered that end of the car. Figured I would just replace the car, but haven't seen them ANYWHERE since !!! :(
    I'm sure I could think of more, but these are the ones that really stand out.
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  12. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

    When messing around with woodworking, I always use pencils with sides so that they're not rolling off my workbench every few minutes. I've long wondered why X-acto makes their knives with round handles which invite a similar, but more dangerous result on my hobby desk.
  13. silentargus

    silentargus TrainBoard Member

    My solution to runaway hobby knives is to keep a block of closed-cell foam on my workbench. Any knife I'm not using goes in the foam. Soft enough to not wear down the blades, firm enough to hold them until I need them again.

    I didn't cut myself with a knife... but I kept a bunch of knives and pens in the same place, and sliced up an insurance bill I was trying to fill out.

    So now the knives go in the foam block, and the pens go in the pen jar. Which are kept on opposite sides of the work space.
  14. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

    Teensy parts, when dropped onto the floor, always disappear. They may reappear sometime in the future, usually when you are looking for another more recently dropped part, but not always.

  15. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Supporter

    Many many many years ago, on more than one occasion, I’ve had an exacto or scalpel blade behind my kneecap.

    Big model railroad mishaps... well don’t put tracks against the edge unless you want to drop your kato f3 off the pub height table onto the tile floor. It survived, and you can’t even tell.
    I’ve also managed to drop the ac12 too. Luckily from a lower height onto a softer surface... I learned!
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  16. SF Chief

    SF Chief TrainBoard Member

    Unless you are very confident in your mechanical skills, don't buy steam engines at auction as I have. Indeed, my current rule of thumb is not to buy any engines--even brand new--without test-running them first at LHS or wherever. Well, I'll make an exception for Kato diesels. Rick
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  17. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

    Speaking of which, I lost a tiny spring a few days ago. It shot toward the cuff on my sleeve, but I couldn't find it anywhere. As I sat down at my PC hours later, there it was adjacent to my mouse ….. and 15 Feet away from where I lost it. I must have used the PC just after losing the spring and it fell off my cuff by my mouse.
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  18. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    Right on and well played. :whistle::LOL:;)
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  19. brokemoto

    brokemoto TrainBoard Member

    A certain well known seller of hobby tools that has a catalogue and website, or someone, used to sell a foam triangular framus that fit on the eXacto knife handle specifically to keep it from rolling off the table and landing in your foot. It might still sell the thing. It was not that expensive, as I recall, but, you did have to order a few other things to make the postage worth it.
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  20. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

    I found these at a local swap shop for R/C airplanes. It was made of rubber and worked really well. The triangular shape cures the roll off and the icing is that it gives a much more comfortable grip. Only 50 cents! :D
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